If you love seafood, you’ve got to try this Easy Air Fried Calamari! Fresh and simple calamari rings are marinated in buttermilk, dressed in seasoned flour, and fried crispy with ease. Now that’s good eating!
Want more easy air fryer recipes? Try these Crispy Air Fryer Chicken wings! They even have a dipping sauce!
Perfect Fried Calamari at Home
I think by now you all know that I looove all things Mediterranean. And really, who wouldn’t? Abundant veggies, garlic, wine, cheese, and pasta… it’s a foodie paradise! 🍷
But, one of the most amazing things about Mediterranean cuisine is the fresh seafood. The gorgeous coasts are full of delicious fish, shellfish, squid, and so much more! That’s why I love this easy recipe for making calamari and marinara sauce at home. It combines the taste of the Mediterranean, the comfort of home, and the easiness of the Air Fryer. 😍 Perfection!
What Is Calamari?
Calamari is the Italian word for squid. When you order it in a restaurant or make it at home, most often you’ll be working with creamy white, thinly-sliced “rings,” although tentacles are also eaten.
The taste of calamari is light and delicate, with a nutty undertone and a slight seawater flavor. It shouldn’t taste overly “fishy”, though.
Texture-wise, calamari should be chewy, but tender. Overcooked calamari can be tough and unpleasant, so try to avoid overcooking.
The secret to this recipe is cornstarch! If you like, you can substitute arrowroot powder or potato starch.
- Calamari Rings: This recipe makes 16 ounces of calamari rings, fresh or frozen. If you use frozen calamari, be sure to thaw in the fridge before using.
- Buttermilk: For soaking the calamari. You’ll need about half a cup.
- Flour: Either all-purpose flour or coconut flour work well in this recipe! I love using coconut flour because it adds just a bit of extra to the overall taste.
- Cornstarch: Half a cup of cornstarch in your flour mixture gives an extra-crispy crunch to the finished calamari.
- Oregano: A teaspoon of dried oregano adds an earthy, tangy note to cut the richness of the fried calamari.
- Salt and Pepper: About half a teaspoon of each.
- Paprika: Sweet or smoked is fine, whichever you prefer.
- Cayenne: Add a couple of pinches of cayenne for bite.
- Cooking Oil Spray: For air-frying.
- Lemon Wedges and Marinara: For serving.
How to Make Fried Calamari in the Air Fryer
Although air-frying is fast, it’s important to remember that many items have to be cooked in batches. So be sure to allow plenty of time to cook as many batches as you want to make.
- Soak the Calamari in Buttermilk. Place your calamari rings in a large bowl, and pour in the buttermilk. Toss the calamari to coat them well in the buttermilk. Cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Preheat the Air Fryer and Bread the Calamari. When you’re ready to cook, preheat your air fryer to 400˚F. Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, oregano, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne pepper in a large, shallow bowl. Remove the calamari rings from the buttermilk, shaking gently to remove excess buttermilk. Dredge the rings in the flour mixture.
- Air Fry the Calamari. Place rings in the basket of the air fryer in one single layer. (You’ll have to cook them in batches.) Spray the tops with cooking spray. Air fry for 4 minutes, turn, spray with cooking spray again, and finish cooking for 3 to 4 minutes. They should be browned and crispy.
- Enjoy! Serve your calamari with lemon wedges and marinara sauce, or tartar sauce, ranch, etc…
Tips for Success
If you’re anything like me, you’re already craving crispy calamari! But, before you start cooking, take just a couple more minutes to check out these handy tips!
- Buttermilk Substitute: If you need a quick substitute for buttermilk, just stir a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar into a cup of milk, and allow to sit for five minutes.
- Let Stand Before Frying: To help the flour mixture stick to the calamari, lay the coated, uncooked rings on a plate or in a colander for a few minutes before frying.
- Gluten-Free Option: To make this recipe gluten-free, just substitute your favorite gluten-free all-purpose flour blend for the regular flour.
Calamari are an awesome appetizer or Amari plate, but you can also turn them into a light dinner or lunch by adding a few side dishes. These are some of my favorites!
- Ricotta and Orzo Stuffed Tomatoes: With or without the tomato “bowls,” this delicate pasta salad goes with everything. It’s light enough not to overpower the calamari, but still full of summery flavor. You’re going to love this recipe for Ricotta and Orzo Stuffed Tomatoes!
- Yogurt and Cucumbers: If you’re not into marinara (or just want more than one delicious dip!), try a simple tzatziki sauce or Macedonian Taratur! This cool and tangy sauce is lighter than tartar sauce, but just as flavorful, and goes perfectly with calamari!
- Couscous: With a hearty side of couscous, you can practically make crispy fried calamari into a meal! I like this recipe for Fluffy Couscous with Asparagus and Golden Raisins.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- To store leftover calamari, place it in an airtight container on a paper towel or clean tea towel in a single layer. Refrigerate for up to 2 days.
- Discard any calamari that has been sitting at room temperature for more than one hour.
- To reheat, place on a baking sheet and bake at 400˚F for ten minutes or so, until hot through. Turn the calamari rings halfway through the reheating process.
Can I Freeze Fried Calamari?
- Yes, you can freeze fried calamari. Just place cooked and cooled calamari on a baking sheet and freeze until frozen solid.
- Then place the frozen rings in freezer bags and gently press out as much air as possible.
- Freeze the calamari for up to 3 months.
- You do not have to thaw before reheating, but the frozen calamari may take longer to reheat.
Air Fryer Fried Calamari
- 1 bag (16 ounces) calamari rings, fresh or frozen, thaw before using
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1-½ cups coconut flour, OR all purpose flour
- ½ cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- Cooking oil spray
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- Marinara sauce, for serving
- Place calamari rings in a large bowl and add the buttermilk; stir around to coat all the rings.
- Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Preheat Air Fryer to 400˚F.
- In a large shallow bowl whisk together the flour, cornstarch, oregano, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne.
- Remove calamari rings from buttermilk and shake off excess buttermilk.
- Dredge the rings in the flour mixture.
- Place rings in the basket of the air fryer in one single layer. You’ll have to cook them in batches.
- Spray the tops with cooking spray.
- Air fry for 4 minutes.
- Flip them over; spray with cooking spray and continue to cook for about 3 to 4 more minutes, or until browned on top and crispy.
- Serve with lemon wedges and marinara for dipping.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.